The $999 Galaxy Z Flip 3 Is Priced To Compete With Flagship Phones. Does That Make It A Contender?

The $999 Galaxy Z Flip 3 Is Priced To Compete With Flagship Phones. Does That Make It A Contender?

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CNN —  

Samsung’s been beating the foldable drum for three years now. And while it took the brand a generation and a half to get the beat timed right, tit now offers two variants of what a foldable phone can truly be. The expensive and flagship Galaxy Z Fold turns a standard smartphone into a tablet-like device. Then there’s the hipper and more affordable Galaxy Z Flip.

Neither of these — or any foldables — have yet crossed into the area of affordability compared to other top smartphones, though. The original Galaxy Z Flip was $1,380 and the Z Fold is closer to the $2,000 price range. But that’s changing with the Galaxy Z Flip 3.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G now features a refined design, mostly flagship specs and a $999 price tag. It’s a contender for the masses now from price alone, sitting alongside the iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy S21 as a phone that won’t just catch your eye, but also potentially fit your budget.

So have foldables worked out their kinks? Are you giving up anything by opting for the fold? Does it fix the issue of a green bubble? We’ve spent three days thus far with the Z Flip 3, so let’s dive in.

Jacob Krol/CNN

At $999, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a pretty well-rounded smartphone and carries the necessary features to be considered a flagship.

It starts with a 1.9-inch cover screen that can be used to see the time, swipe through notifications (and dismiss them) and control music among other panels. Opening up the Z Flip 3 reveals the 6.7-inch Infinity Flex AMOLED display complete with a pinhole notch at the top. It’s modern in every sense — including a 120 Hz refresh rate — and while not as rigid as a standard screen, we don’t have any immediate concerns. Be warned, though: All foldables have a crease in the screen.

Samsung says the screen is 30% stronger over the original and it still has two nibs on the bottom left and right corners to safely open and close. This way you can forcefully shut the phone. Samsung is still using the hideaway hinge, which works to ensure a smooth open or close while also working to prevent debris from getting under the display. The Z Flip 3 is also the first foldable, along with the Z Fold 3, to carry an IPX8 water resistance rating. That means it can handle up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes. We wouldn’t recommend putting the Z Flip 3 through this, but we did use it in the rain and it’s still performing just right. There’s still no dust resistance here, though.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a premium flagship smartphone with only a few missing features, namely in the realm of cameras. Here’s how it stacks up to two similarly priced flagships in the Galaxy S21+ and iPhone 12 Pro.

Jacob Krol/CNN

The Galaxy S21+ and Z Flip 3 are nearly identical devices. Samsung’s S21+ is best for those who want a classic experience with three versatile lenses to choose from when taking photos. The Z Flip 3 is a folding smartphone with a more compact and pocketable form that focuses on its ability to flex.

Both feature a 6.7-inch display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with 8GB of RAM. They’re running Android 11 with Samsung One UI, though the Z Flip has some customizations to take advantage of the folding capabilities. On the subject of cameras, they both have a pinhole notch on the front, which contains an identical 10-megapixel camera.

If you care about the ability to zoom, the S21 is the obvious choice here, as it includes a dedicated telephoto lens. It’s a 64-megapixel telephoto lens, which can zoom in 3x optically to capture a rich level of detail and up to 30x using Space Zoom. That’s a Samsung marketing term, but it combines optical and digital zoom together for a clear shot at times. Both the Z Flip 3 and the S21 feature the same 12-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultrawide lens, though — aka you’re left with two great ways to capture an image in nearly any scenario. We are left missing the telephoto on the Z Flip 3, though, especially at nearly $1,000.

The Z Flip 3 and S21+ both perform adequately and quite fast as modern smartphones also. Nearly all apps have plenty of breathing room, and that goes for more intense tasks like creative edits or gaming on the go. They both support 5G, mmWave and Sub-6 out of the box as well.

Ultimately it comes down to the fold and that additional lens. The Z Flip 3 is not the traditional form factor. It folds in half and easily fits in pockets. The Galaxy S21+ fits in the conventional modern smartphone mold and performs very well in that world, plus that additional lens is excellent for photo fanatics.

They’re both priced at $999.99, but Samsung is offering aggressive trade-in discounts and several promotional credits.

Jacob Krol/CNN

The biggest difference between these two devices is obvious: iOS versus Android, which mostly comes down to personal preference. There’s basically an app equivalent on either platform except for Apple’s services. Yes, FaceTime will be coming to the web and therefore to Android devices, but there’s not an official workaround for iMessage. Apple Music is available in the Play Store on Android, and much of Google’s services are found in the App Store on iOS. Both the Z Flip 3 and

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